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CPAWS calls on premiers to protect large-scale wildlife habitat

  • Published on Jan 28 2008 |
  • This article is tagged as: boreal-forest

Ottawa -- In the face of climate change that is already harming forests, oceans and wildlife, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is calling on Canada’s premiers at their January 29th meeting in Vancouver to adopt an adaptation strategy that will set aside at least half of Canada’s public land and water in protected areas.  

“If the premiers just focus their adaptation discussions on managing disasters like changing water levels and pine beetle infestations, they’ll miss the boat. They need to move on proactive measures that will give our ecosystems the maximum chance of survival. There’s no time to lose, we need a highly accelerated pace of establishing large-scale protected areas on land and water,” says Aran O’Carroll, CPAWS national manager of  legal and regulatory affairs.  

Canada is one of the few remaining countries in the world that has large stretches of intact wilderness. Saving the wilderness will both help ecosystems to adapt to climate change and slow its impacts. Our oceans and forests capture and store greenhouse gas emissions in the form of carbon.  

CPAWS has set a target of protecting at least half of Canada’s public lands and waters because that’s the minimum scientists say is needed to maintain healthy functioning ecosystems. As an example, over 1,500 international scientists signed a letter last spring calling on Canada to protect at least half of our Boreal forest, which covers nearly 60% of our landmass.  

The International Panel on Climate Change reports that approximately 20% to 30% of plant and animal species are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if global average temperature rises exceed 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius.   

“An ecosystem can only take so much of a beating before it collapses. The best way to keep an ecosystem’s resilience high is to protect it from other intrusive impacts like logging, mining and oil and gas development,” says O’Carroll.    

“So far, less than 10% of Canada’s lands and 1% of our oceans are protected from industrial activity. Over 500 Canadian wildlife species, ranging from the iconic woodland caribou to the tiny Monarch butterfly are already at risk of extinction, and the number will grow unless we take action now to protect their habitat,” adds O’Carroll. 

“We know that forward-looking protected area plans are do-able. Just look at the Northwest Territories, where the government working with Canada, has recently protected over 100,000 km2 of intact wilderness. Every premier has the ability to set targets for new protected areas that will help to slow and respond to the impacts of climate change,” adds O’Carroll.  


Ellen Adelberg (613) 292-2875
Aran O’Carroll (613) 698-6931 

CPAWS is Canada’s voice for wilderness. In the past 45 years, CPAWS has played a lead role in establishing more than two-thirds of Canada’s protected areas.